2019 National Awards - The Year where the snubbed ones stand out more than the winners!
2018, in Indian Cinema, was enriched with several other highly qualitative attempts all over the regional cinema and even bollywood. With 2019 National Awards having been announced, there is a severe strike of criticism all over the social media about the panel being downright ignoring about Tamil Cinema and several good works from all over the country. Though certain awards make us brim with pride and happiness such as Keerthy Suresh winning her national award for Best Actress with Mahanati or Sudani From Nigeria winning Best Malayalam Film and Savitri Sreedharan who played Jameelamma in it winning a special mention for supporting role.. the list of snubbed out performances and films is shockingly huge. With a diverse country like us, and every state having a great back up of resources and talents in making films.. it really pushes us to reconsider our ways of validating and awarding the BESTs in a country. Keeping that aside, here is a list of films which I think, deserves an attention despite it not being recognized by the national awards.
P.S : I haven't seen Tumbbad yet!
Manto.. Nandita Das's period drama that fascinatingly retold the biography of Saadat Hasan Manto is a film that hit finesse in all the crafts of cinema. Be it the writing, narration, aesthetically recreated period by the art direction, Sreekar Prasad's brilliant editing and not to miss.. the impeccably stunning performance by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.. the film is not the usual biopic you get to see in Indian Cinema. As much as it looks at the essence of Manto in contemporary times where fascism flourishes all over.. it also doesn't shy away from exploring the dark side and flaws of the man that Manto is.
October.. Probably, the most tender piece of art to fall last year was October, written by Juhi Chaturvedi & directed by Shoojit Sircar. The Varun Dhaan - Banita Sandhu starrer film is a meditative peace of poetry that calms down and looks back at the little moments we never really care about until we get to know it is on its due to expire. In a moving story between a bed-ridden, hospitalized Shiuli and Dan, who waits for her to recover.. Shoojit pulls off a poignant mist of melancholy embraced by some subtle yet heartbreaking performances. Shantanu Moira's theme for the film still breaks your heart and lingers as a bittersweet wave of sadness. Gitanjali Rao, who played Shiuli's mother in the film impacted everyone with one of the terrific supporting roles of last year. It does break your heart to see this little gem being not recognized and gets overridden in all the hues and cries for popular cinema.
Pariyerum Perumal.. The greatest disapppointment and the unanimous suggestion that almost every moviebuff made when the national awards were announced was for Pariyerum Perumal, a terrific film on the caste violence that happens down south. Like a Fandry or Sairat.. Pariyerum Perumal is the first of its sort in the Tamil Cinema to address the casteism unapologetically and with no mainstream makeups. The rawness of the narration by Mari Selvaraj and the brutally realistic performance by Kathir who played Pariyan, the lead in the film deserved an appreciation. One couldn't think a worthy reason for this film to get missed by the panel.
Mukkabaaz.. Vineet Kumar Singh, who played an aspiring boxer, Shravan Kumar Singh delivered a knock out performance under Anurag Kashyap's direction. In a powerful yet engaging and highly entertaining sports drama, his portrayal of a sensitive, stuck-in-the-crisis-of-life boxer came across as a break through performance of the year. The film also left no stones unturned, with it being an unconventional sports film having a love story at its heart and also addressing every issue right from cow belt vigilant rowdyism to casteism in sports selection committees in the city where it is set in.
Peranbu.. Ram's fourth film, Peranbu, is a detour from his usual style of accessible, loud and on the face cinemas. Here is a film that quietly revolves around a helpless father and his ailing special child. The film featured one of Mammooty's career best performance that almost made everyone to hope for a national award to him. The portrayal of Amudhavan by Mammooty gets increasingly personal, sensitively layered and peels off itself into an better human being evolving with the course of film. The film also had two terrific numbers penned by Vairamuthu.. 'Vaanthooral' & 'Dhooramaai'.. which deserves a recognition for its healing and powerful lyrics more than the last song that won for Vairamuthu. Though the panel jury has addressed that the film was rejected in the state level itself.. it again keeps us question the standards with which our films are getting validated.
Padmaavat.. Though the epic saga has won three national awards for Best Music Direction, Best Choreography and Best Male Playback Singer.. it is a surprise that the stunner of a performance by Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Jim Sarbh doesn't get appreciated. Deepika's performance as Rani Padmavati is iconic by all means and came off as Deepika's most hard worked portrayal so far. Also, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's direction in the film is nothing short of a masterpiece. The auteur's midas touch that slowly builds up a tragic tale being neglected over the direction of a jingoistic, propaganda film like Uri is unbearably a put-off!
C/o Kancherapalam.. To me, the most surprising movie of 2018 is definitely this little gem from Telugu Cinema. Told like an anthology, C/o Kancherapalam is a beautifully written and shot journey of human relationships. Though the film was initially ruled out of considerations for it being produced by a foreign producer.. it was later pushed in after several people calling out the unfair rules. Yet.. an inspiring work like this being not recognized by the awards panel is not only a shock but a slunder mistake!
VadaChennai.. A riveting tale of revenge is Vetrimaran's recent film, VadaChennai, set on the north Madras in the early 80s and mid 90s. Though not the best of Vetrimaran, the film is an ambitiously told gangster saga that had some stellar performances and narration. Santosh Narayanan's authentically interpreted scores and Dhanush's absorbing performances along with several impactful performances from the supporting cast including Samudrakani, Ameer and Kishore made the film come alive to its roots. As the part 2 is cooking.. it is a huge shock to several people who were routing for the film to make a stamp at the awards season.
Merku Thodarchi Malai.. A toil tale about the blood sprouted lands of farmers down south in Tamil Nadu, is an uncompromising take on the life of a farmer who struggles to own a piece of land and survive in his village that's been choked by the government under the name of development. Directed by Lenin Bharathi, the film is a painful documentation of a culture, tribe, people and a geography that doesn't get represented in our films often. Theni Eshwar's cinematography in the film is world class and it sketches the story with the fine balance of art and truth.
Omerta.. Hansal Mehta's Omerta featured last year's one of the most scintillating performances of any male lead! Rajkummar Rao played Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a terrorist, in all his glory and thirst for revenge. This brutal tale of blood and politics is an unconventional film in every aspect. Rajkummar Rao's portrayal definitely haunts the viewer with its spine chilling subtlety of playing with the deadly undertones. Again.. this getting unnoticed over Ayushmann's or Vicky Kaushal's performance in Andhadhun / Uri is not so convincing for any fellow moviebuff.
96, Poomaram, Manmarziyaan & Laila Majnu.. Though Sanjay Leela Bhansali's soundtrack for Padmaavat is magnificently epic.. there were several inspiring new talents surprising with stellar works last year. My personal favourites were.. the album of 96, another deserving Tamil film that demands a national recognition with score and soundtrack by Govind Vasantha. It had some of the most celebrated Tamil songs of 2018, with terrific sense of imageries and poetry in its lyrics by Karthik Netha and Uma Devi. The album brought back the long lost culture of a Tamil film album standing solely on its strength of melody. And then, there was Laila Majnu, composed by Niladri Kumar, Joi Barua and Alif. The Imtiazish album is a revelation in its worship of madness and love beyond reasonings. Amit Trivedi's celebrated and also underrated album of the year, Manmarziyaan had almost 14 songs with rich lyrics and varied genre of music. And.. back there in Kerala.. there was Poomaram.. a soundtrack composed by several music directors.. Perumbavoor G. Raveendranath, Gopi Sundar, Faisal Razi, Leela L GiriKuttan, Arackal Nandakumar, Nasil P, K.A Anish, Vishnu Sivasankar and Sayoojya Das. The college coming of age drama that talks about the evolving of a personal self through leadership, sportsmanship and team spirit had a soundtrack that voices out the inner strength, spirit and hope of youth!
As Mads Mikkelsen rightfully said, "Awards mean absolutely nothing if you don't get it. If you do get it, they're the best thing in the world." However, in a country like India or a state like TamilNadu where Cinema is this thin line of walking between an two-edged knife of art and commerce, to artists who shed off their insecurity and create something that's vocal about the times we live and make something meaningful and powerful, is definitely quite something. And that deserves an acknowledgement! Let us spread out the word and celebrate the films that touched us, shook us, haunted us and made us wipe our tears with our love for cinema.